Lunch Drawing #30: The Winter Lark

Lunch Drawing #30: Winter LarkWhen kids are in high school, doodles usually adorn every surface of their textbooks; at least they did on mine. I loved scribbling on the back of my tablet, or in the margins of my history book, or just on loose leaf and in notebooks. Anything was better than listening to the teacher and taking notes on whatever bullshit they were going on about.

What I’ve most enjoyed about making the “Lunch Drawings” is just how much they remind me of those drawings I made trying to escape the mind-numbing and mundane crap they tried to teach me in school. With very few exceptions, my teachers talked like a roll of toilet paper. One bloodless, colorless theory after the next, until I had annihilation fantasies about blowing up my high school. The history I was taught was a lie. The math, I can do with a calculator. The English lit was the boring shit only Catholic schools would teach.

I went to a high school with no windows. At least in grade school, I could look outside at the birds. This became my great escape, and when I drew them, it became even better.

Often the drawings wound up situated in the middle of the crazed and vulgar doodles that I made. I didn’t realize it was my subconscious telling me to broom the rest of this shit and just go somewhere and draw.  Eventually I got it. Drawing birds and naked girls became my passport to what the nuns used to call, “Tony World.” I liked it there.

I could do whatever the fuck I wanted there. When I was drawing, nothing that the teachers, cops, or other pain-in-the-ass authority figures had to say meant dick. It was all a blur and I learned how to shut out the noise, and listen to the music in my head.

Published in: on January 5, 2014 at 12:57 am  Comments (1)  

Lunch Drawing #29: The Snow Wren

The Snow Wren

It seems like the end and the beginning of every year I draw birds. I always told myself that rather than do anything stupid like retiring, my idea of retirement would be drawing birds and naked women. I don’t mean “nudes.” I mean NAKED WOMEN. There is a difference. I also decided I would just make up some birds. Rather than draw the many existing species, I’d just make up my own. This is one of those. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a “snow wren.” There could be; I haven’t looked it up. There are snow buntings, snowy owls, and snow geese; so it stands to reason that there could be such a thing as a “snow wren.” I don’t care if there is or not. This little bird came to me as I watched my feeder on Xmas morning. All of the colors in this bird were present at the feeder that morning. On a blanket of snow ; the colors of each bird were sharp and lovely and alive with the exigence of a winter feeding and I realized I could distinguish the different kinds of birds because of the high relief of the white ground. I could suddenly tell a purple finch from a red-headed house finch. . .and this is harder than it sounds. The different sparrows, of which there are many kinds, now are distinctive to me. Does it mean I am a better bird watcher? Probably not. It just means I’m still learning how to see; and for this, I am grateful.

Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lunch Drawing #28: Walk on the Wild Side (Drawing for Lou Reed)

Lunch drawing 28: Walk on the Wild Side

There was a memorial held for Lou Reed last night in New York City at the Apollo, which Lou would have loved. In its heyday, the Apollo was THE showcase for artists of color. All of the greats passed through there at one time or another; James Brown, Little Richard, Etta James, and all of the great doo-wop groups. Growing up, Lou loved Dion. Later in life, the two men became good friends through Doc Pomus. Last night, according to Penn Jillette’s and Salman Rushdie’s posts ; some of those old lights were relit.

It may seem hard to understand at first that Lou started his career writing doo-wop songs, but if you think about it, this glorious street corner music echoes though out Lou’s work, particularly in Walk on the Wild Side, where this idiomatic American sound becomes an earthy, gritty rock and roll aria.

In the “Doo-do-do-do-do” chorus there are precisely 64 “doo’s.”

It is like a driving lullaby; an incantation, an urgent come-hither invitation to the other side.

About two years ago, I hosted a dinner at Les Halles in New York, the night before my show was to open in Brooklyn at Pierogi. I usually invited about 30 of my friends and crew because opening night is too much of a madhouse to figure anything like this out.

I brought my assistant Jesse Sioux Achramowicz. She is a big Lou Reed fan, particularly the Velvet Underground. She was born in 1988 and having gone through a total identity transformation entering high school, she discovered punk rock, like all young artists seem to do. The writings of Lou and Patti Smith became beacons of light to her, poetry of rebellion which spoke to her in loud, bold strokes. It gave her a floor to dance upon. Lou, in particular, resonated with a young artist searching for her own voice.

Jesse Sioux is a unique human being. She’s the best assistant I’ve ever had and the most unusual. She dresses in a very different outfit every day. One day she will have bangs and a florescent orange matching bag and shoes, the next she will have a pile of blue, green, and lavender dreadlocks with Malcom X glasses and jewels in her teeth. She is only like herself; and one of the kindest human beings I know.

She was sat directly across from Lou and she was freaked, with her hero sitting eyeball to eyeball across from her. They talked all night; Lou, the kindly punk-rock uncle telling stories and discussing dogs, iPhones, technology (Lou loved gadgets and so does Jesse) and you’d have thought they’d known each other their whole lives. It was the Lou I knew–kind, intelligent and generous of spirit.

Jesse was over the moon to have had a conversation with Lou. I chose to make a portrait of her for this chorus of the song because I suspect Lou knew that Jesse, and young people like her, were exactly who he wrote that song to set free.

Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Lunch Drawing 27: Drawing for the Back-Up Singers (Drawing for Lou Reed)

Lunch Drawing 27: Drawing for the Back-Up Singers (Drawing for Lou Reed)In the marvelous documentary, Twenty Feet from Stardom, the career trajectory of a great many female back up singers is traced, including Merry Clayton, whose hair-raising vocals on the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter still induce awe and chills with each listening. She remarks that she was a girl trained in the church, and that when the call came very late at night to sing the Stones song, she was appalled by the lyrics, “…rape, murder, it’s just a shot away…”, but this was her job and at the time, she was pregnant and had mouths to feed.

It is not possible to overestimate the soul-rending beauty these women added to rock and roll music right from the beginning.

Many of our leading female stars started out singing behind lesser talented male singers. Sheryl Crow started behind Don Henley and Michael Jackson, as did Lisa Fischer. Bette Midler sang behind many stars and in bathhouses before breaking out on her own. Detroit’s luminous Bettye LaVette was a back-up singer on Motown songs. The list goes on and on.

Lou Reed, who loved doo-wop. pays homage to these women in Walk on the Wild Side with what now sounds like a very Un-P.C. lyric: “…And the colored girls go, ‘Doo-Do-do-do-do-Doo-do-do-do-do-do-do’,” which I’m sure was written with the utmost empathy and, in fact, written to shed a light on the very often unappreciated and underpaid women who gave rock and roll its grace notes.

Published in: on December 11, 2013 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lunch Drawing 26: Kid Hustle

Kid HustleThe New York City of 1972 was a desperate, narcotic haze of failed urban planning, poverty and criminality. Mayor John Lindsay had inherited a city teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, rife with racial and social unrest, and hobbled by strikes of every kind by city workers and other labor unions–as well as a blackout; in which the power grid went down and made the city doubly terrifying. New York City, for a time, resembled the Gomorrah that the rest of America thought it was.

Lindsay was considered presidential timber, and briefly abandoned office to run for president in the 1972 primaries. He dropped out soon enough after a few poor showings. His opponents, quickly pointed out what they considered the ruinous condition of New York City. Lindsay became an easily assailable candidate.

John Lindsay was an odd duck in New York politics. He was Kennedy-handsome, liberal (but not too liberal) and in any other environment, an attractive prospect for the presidency. Though, with New York as the backdrop for his ambitions, the foundation of his political structure, an example of his leadership…he was fucked.

John Lindsay started out in politics as a Republican. It’s thought that civil rights is what led him to jump to the Democratic party, though it was probably more to better his chances in New York City as a pol.

While every news outlet in the country was writing New York City’s obit; the city’s cultural zeitgeist roared forward. Its artistic activity manifested itself in one of the richest periods in the city’s history. A cursory look around the landscape found Warhol, The Velvets, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Johns, Ana Mendieta, Eva Hesse. . .this list goes on and on. The New York of 1972 was affordable. The city of disrepair was a place artists of every stripe could find a way to survive, create, and thrive. All they had to do was hustle.

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lunch Drawing 25: Kid Apollo (Drawing for Lou Reed)

Lunch Drawing #25 Kid Apollo (Drawing for Lou Reed)

Lou Reed’s 1992 masterpiece, “Magic and Loss” is informed by the deaths of two friends; the great American songwriter, Doc Pomus, and Warhol factory regular Rotten Rita.

Pomus, of course, is one of the honored presences in the rock and roll canon who wrote a slew of hits as part of the Brill Building creative brain-trust; a generation of songwriters that included Stoller and Leiber, as well as Gerry Goffin, Phil Spector, and Carole King. Pomus wrote the lovely and longing “This Magic Moment,” which Lou later covered for the soundtrack of a rather forgettable film. Lou’s version is elegiac and heartfelt, concluding a with a coda for his departed friend at the tail end of the song, comprised of the title of another Pomus chestnut,”Save the last dance for me, Babe.”

Lou’s rendering of this song is almost as quiet and intimate as a prayer. Only Mike Rathke’s thundering guitar hints at the howling absence of Doc himself.

Pomus was an American treasure who wrote hits for a great many singers and bands throughout his long career. “Sweets for my Sweet,” “Turn me Loose,” and “Little Sister” were all Pomus songs, as well as “Lonely Avenue,” the song that came to define Ray Charles in the late ’50s, and has been covered by everyone from Los Lobos to Van Morrison. The influence of the former Jerome Solon Felder is incalculable.

Doc started out as a blues singer, very often being the only white guy in the clubs. As a polio victim, who walked with the aid of crutches and as well as being Jewish, Doc felt the underdog kinship with African American musicians and very often, he explained his songs by saying he wrote them for “…those people stumbling around in the night out there, uncertain or not always so certain of exactly where they fit in and where they were headed.”

Doc’s songs remind me of nothing so much as the Edward Hopper painting, “Nighthawks,” painted a full generation before rock and roll–with their lonely, longing hues of the night ending with nobody to hug or a hand to hold.

Songs of love and loss had immense purchase on the work of Lou Reed. Those departed, and those estranged,  haunt almost every song in Lou’s catalogue. From “The Sword of Damocles” to “The Halloween Parade” to “The Finish Line,” Lou informs us there are no proportions in grief and loss; only shadow, only memory, and only the songs.

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 2:03 am  Comments (1)  

Lunch Drawing #24 Candy Came From Out On The Island In “Walk on the Wild Side,” several of Andy Warhol’s “Superstars” converge from their various former lives to New York City–a place where they can be who they were meant to be, where they can shed their former mundane or suffocating identities and transform. A place of freedom. For those from outside of this milieu, it is a hard thought to square with the New York City of 1972. Crime-ridden, virtually bankrupt, and radiant with a dangerous kind of glamour, New York didn’t seem to be a place where one could be free. All of the movies and entertainment of this era, from the “Godfather” and “The French Connection,” to small films like “Panic in Needle Park,” rendered a place in ruins and lengthening shadows. Little did the Aamerica west of the Hudson know, that The Factory, Warhol’s studio, would be a propulsive engine of cultural change from Lou and the Velvets to Interview Magazine and the seminal beginnings of punk rock, glam rock, and the explosion of art and music in the East Village. Between Warhol and Lou, a lot happened, and a great many artists, musicians and writers lost and found their place in the culture they created. The “Superstars” starred in Warhol’s movies and many weren’t really actors. Warhol revered them as entities and, in some sad cases, ciphers. All of them though, were thoroughly seduced by the thought of fame, -even when staring blankly into the lens of Warhol’s Dream Machine.

Published in: on November 23, 2013 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Lunch Drawing 23: Lady Eyebrows

Lunch Drawing 23: Lady Eyebrows

One night in Manhattan, my friend, Bob Chase, and I met up with Lou Reed to attend a benefit for Prospect 1, the first-ever New Orleans Biennial. It was at the Core Club, a kind of fancy-schmancy, arts-positive club that had graciously agreed to host the event. While standing outside, Lou told us of how “Walk on the Wild Side” came into being. It was initially written for a musical based on Nelson Algren’s novel of the same name. When the financing failed to materialize, Lou switched out Algren’s New Orleans demimonde for Warhol’s Factory denizens and achieved the only top 40 hit of his career.

Never before had Top 40 radio had a song that spoke so clearly to the “other”–junkies, gay people, and other square pegs who existed in the margins of American life.

The first time I heard it I was in seventh grade, wearing black pants, a white shirt and a red tie (the Catholic school uniform of St Pius X)and I remember thinking that I didn’t know completely what this song was about, but I knew it had something to do with me.

It was one of those moments that set me free and let me know that there was another side.

It probably isn’t Lou’s best song, or even his best-known song, but it is the one that reached into the white-bread heart of America and announced that the freaks and misfits and others who chose a life outside of the lines weren’t going anywhere to hide any more, and this was not a small thing. Lou broke down the door, and the rest of us got to walk through it.

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 7:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Lunch Drawing #22: ‘Looking for Soul Food (Drawing for Lou Reed)

LunchDrawing#22LookingForSoulFood(Drawing_for_LouReed)_100

There is a very expensive steakhouse in Brooklyn called Peter Luger’s that, for over a hundred years, has served what’s thought to be the best steak in New York, , ,or the country for that matter.  And when you eat their beef, it is hard to argue with this appraisal. It melts in your mouth. It is perfectly seasoned and cooked at a very high temperature in butter. The Luger’s steak is delicious. No argument. The service leaves a lotto be desired, though; snotty old Kraut waiters, a long wait even when you have a reservation, and the light so bright, you’d think you were in an operating room.

For many of the years that I knew Lou Reed, this was his favorite steak. . .and we ate a lot of it. We’d often go with a big group; five or six people at least. Luger’s was less likely to fuck you around if it was a big table. Over the years, Lou brought Salman Rushdie, Hal Wilner,the musical genius, Laurie Anderson and a host of dudes from his Tai-Chi classes, including the instructor.

I brought my friends Nick Bubash, Mickey Cartin,  Joe Amrhein, and various other miscreants. Our crowds mixed well and during the dinner we’d talk about art, music, politics, and exchange the latest dirty jokes. Salman Rushdie has a deep cache of very funny dirty jokes. I was always amazed that he was so funny. For all that he had been through, (it isn’t everyone who has the leader of a country put a price on his head) he was and is funnier than hell. It was also interesting to hear him discuss books and authors.  At one dinner, he explained a petty pissing match between V.S. Naipaul and Paul Theroux who’d
written a scathing book about their friendship and its undoing. Salman explained that the notoriously thin-skinned Theroux was pissed that Naipaul no longer wanted to be friends and wrote a book about it. It was nice to hear that great writers were just as petty and vindictive and juvenile as the rest of us.

Often, toward the end of the meal, there would be a pile of steak bones that still had a lot of meat on them. Lou and I would chew the meat off of the bones. we’d just flat-ass pick up the bones and start gnawing on them like a couple of terriers. The great thing was Lou made noise while he gnawed, not unlike a growl, and it was funnier than hell. What was great was that after the notoriously aloof service by starch-shirted elderly Huns, there were a couple of guys loudly chewing on bones, and didn’t give a fuck who heard it–and one of them was Lou Reed. What were they going to say?

“Hey, Lou Reed! Stop chewing on that bone of the steak you just paid for.”

I can tell you how THAT would have gone.

Later on, Lou became a fan of Wolfgang’s, which was opened by a bunch that used to work at Luger’s, the late, great West 63rd Street Steakhouse across from Lincoln Center or, in a pinch, the grand old war horse of Manhattan steakhouses, The Homestead.

There is something about steak to kids who were raised working-class. They enjoy it more. It is always a treat, even if you can eat it every night.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m drawing the song, “Walk on the Wild Side.” It is the first song of Lou’s I ever heard and, at the time,it spoke to me in a way I didn’t quite understand; like a dog whistle for people who knew they were going to be other.

It is the only way I can think of to honor my friend.

Published in: on November 11, 2013 at 12:32 am  Comments (1)  
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Lunch Drawing 21: Kid Hustle…..(Wal​k on the Wild Side, ​for Lou Reed)​

LunchDrawing21-KidHustle

In 1972, a single was released that was unlike anything in the history of AM Radio. Lou Reed’s, Walk on the Wild Side spoke of transgression, otherness and addiction. It also casually mentioned “giving head,” which, for some reason, went over the heads of the notorious radio censors of the day. It was a howl from the other side,a bulletin to the square America that there were whole other cultures walking among them and damn-near invisible.

The New York of this song was grimy and dangerous, the same New York that, two years later, Martin Scorsese would mine for the shattering Taxi Driver. New York City was dangerous, subversive, and the last thing we had resembling Bohemia. It was the New York of Warhol’s Factory where, of course, The Velvet Underground was nurtured and unleashed on the world. And right at the forefront of all of it was Lou Reed.

He’d studied philosophy at Syracuse and was a student of the great American poet, Delmore Schwartz. In the whole time I knew Lou, he was never not reading poetry. He loved haiku, Rilke, Artaud, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Valery. You name it, Lou read it. He was also fascinated by the city of New York, kind of the same way I am by Chicago, and I loved when he told me stories of the city in the early ’70s and late ’60s and the tidal, cultural changes that he, himself, helped foster into being. . .the places like Max’s Kansas City, CBGB–the emergence of punk and the roiling and whirling energies that brought it all to bear. He was witness to all of it.

New York was a dangerous place. Forty-Second Street before the invasion of the Disney crowd, was lurid and grim and shiny whore candy for blocks at a time. One of those place that was scary even in broad daylight. And Lou sang of its people in terse and unsparing lyrics. “Walk on the Wild Side” was the beginning of an enormous cultural shift in a bankrupt city of hunger.

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lunch Drawing 20: Kid Satellite of Love (Magic Cat for Lou Reed)

 

Lunch Drawing 20: Kid Satellite of LoveIt seems there is nobody who doesn’t have something to say about the passing of Lou Reed. The past couple of days have yielded an outpouring of love for the man that, quite honestly, might have surprised even him, particularly from music journalists. Some, who never had a kind word for him in life, have written fawning eulogies that say a good deal more about themselves than they do about Lou. It is a curious thing.

And right about now? He is probably laughing his ass off. I can say this with a straight face. One of the things I treasure the most in this life is that Lou Reed was my friend.

For over twenty years, we shared meals, dirty jokes, stories and a lot of friends.

People would often complain to me that Lou was nasty to journalists or rude. I saw him around a lot of journalists and never once saw this. I can believe he could be formidable and thorny with some in the ink racket. Do I condone this? Yeah, every goddamned bit of it. When some asshole with a notepad decides to make a punchline out of you, the last goddamned thing you are obligated to do is help them. So, if Lou messed up their hair a little bit…good for him.

I met him through Penn Jillette. He had given Lou an etching that I’d made based on one of his songs. Lou liked it and shortly after that Penn arranged an introduction.

One always hears, “Don’t meet your heroes–they’ll only disappoint you.”

This was not ever the case with Lou. He never treated me with anything other than kindness and generosity. He also challenged the way I thought about music and art, poetry and damned near everything else.

We talked like guys talk, unguarded and we could say anything we wanted. I wasn’t a journalist wanting to pick at the legend and see if a reaction could be needled out of him. I was a young artist trying to find my voice and, along with some others, Lou helped me find it, with forthrightness, humor and, from time to time, some tough love.

“Get off the cross, Kid. Somebody needs the wood,” was what he told me once after a condescending review from a Buffalo newspaper.

“What you do, Kid,is you outlast the fuckers.”

It was the best advice I ever got.

For all of Lou’s perceived flintiness with the press, he was a constant source of fascination for them–an artist that seemed at once fully formed, yet restlessly experimental.

It occurs to me that Lou’s real audience probably hasn’t been born yet.

He is one of those who casts a very long shadow. Coming generations will discover what ours missed with brilliant works like Magic and Loss and Set the Twilight Reeling, there will be a newer, less cynical appreciation for songs like Talking Book, which was written for one of his collaborative shows with Robert Wilson.

For all of those whose appreciation for Lou ceased with the end of the Velvet Underground, well. . .you haven’t realized half of this artist’s output. Check out the rest and you are in for a real treat.

I met Lou right after he and the artist, Laurie Anderson, became a couple and if he became less flinty and friendlier, it was due to her. I remember walking through the West Village with him one night and telling me, “Everyday, I think of a new way to adore her.” He smiled the big smile. There are damned few photographs of that smile–if any– but if you ever saw him play live,  you know the one I am talking about. I spent many nights in their company and I’ll tell you this , Lou and Laurie knew how to be in love. When they married in 2008, I saw Laurie backstage after one of her performances at the Harris Theater, and she told me, “Me and Lou got married. Isn’t that crazy?” The whole time I knew Lou and Laurie, they were never happier than when they were with each other. At times. I thought of them as one beings; odd as that sounds, given their distinctive and iconic artistic identities.

It’s been said the Velvet Underground records didn’t sell worth a damn, but everybody that bought one, started a band. This quote is often attributed to Brian Eno, who denies ever saying it; yet one cannot dance around its essential truth. I don’t know anybody in rock and roll who was NOT influenced by Lou, Lou and the Velvets, Lou and John Cale. The list of incarnations goes on and on.

What we can all learn from Lou Reed is to be fearless, to be fierce, and to be unflinchingly honest, no matter what it costs us. That some of his records were greeted with derision and jeers again tells you a lot more about the writers of those reviews than they ever did about Lou Reed. I can tell you this:  Every time Lou made a record, he emptied the tank, gave it his all and left every thought, appetizing or otherwise, in the songs. You never got half-measures from Lou Reed.

I was lucky enough to get to hear records before they were released, songs for shows that were never produced in the U.S. including a lot of his collaborations with Robert Wilson; and it was thrilling. I got to meet Fernando Saunders, Tony “Thunder” Smith and the great Mike Rathke–all guys who contributed to that loud, muscular sound that made his live shows such a treat.

Something transformative would happen when the 70-year old man strapped on a guitar. Lou Reed, the wanton teenager whose life was saved by rock and roll showed up and played with a wild abandon and, for a while, he pushed the stars back up into the sky and let them shine on the rest of us who were hell-bent on rebellion. To those of us who looked to rock and roll for our answers and our hopes, and our prayers, he was a fleet and dangerous magic cat with nine rock and roll lives; and in the feedback of those relentless and ferocious songs, I learned not to fear anything.

So long Pal, see you when I get there.

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Lunch Drawing 19: Kid Flamin’ Hot

kidflaminhot

As a kid, I liked making imaginary animals; beasts-, lions with eagle heads, snakes with baby heads, and naked women with bird heads. I had more fun drawing things and animals that didn’t exist except in the curious neighborhood of my own head. I remembered Johnny Carson would have Jim Fowler, from Wild Kingdom on his program. Fowler often brought odd creatures to scare the shit out of Johnny with–pangolins, vultures, hyenas and all manner of large constricting snakes. Once be brought a Bateleur eagle that took a monstrously slick, sticky shit on Johnny’s desk and Carson about puked before cutting to commercial.

After seeing all of these oddities , I began to think some of the creatures I was making up might actually exist somewhere in the world. I particularly liked strange animals like civets, meerkats, wolverines, badgers and Tasmanian devils–vicious, feral-looking motherfuckers who love you not. They seemed to all be small and mean and built out of knotted muscle for violence and grievous harm.

A couple of years ago there was a screamingly funny YouTube video about the honey badger–and how honey badger didn’t give a shit. In it , the honey badger runs amok, fucking up every other creature in sight, including a cobra–who bites the honey badger and we think, “Oh, he is fucked now,” but no. After passing out for about 3 minutes, he awakens and continues to kill the shit out of the cobra and then eats him; all 5 feet of him. After this, he trots off in search of some other living thing to fuck up and inflict mayhem upon.

The video is funnier than hell and also makes the point that nature is mostly around-the-clock murder. No right. No wrong. Only consequences.

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 9:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Lunch Drawing 18: Kid Gizmo

Kid GizmoIt is that time of year again, when baseball will inevitably break our hearts.

One day–the day after the World Series–it will be gone and the world will take on ever more deeply visible increments of gray. The leaves will put on quite a show though, turning to yellowy fire and deep plum and the air will carry the promise and curse of winter, clean and cold.

I have a show in 31 days. For the first time I can remember there is no over all thematic subject unifying all of it. I grew tired of everything having to fall together as an overall statement. I wanted to remember what it was like to grab my sketch book and go out and play. To make drawings that are almost unconscious, like doodles; when the less attractive and under-the-counter thoughts make themselves visible.

When I was a kid, I only wanted to draw birds, animals, naked women, and comics, usually nasty caricatures of the dopes who were authority figures in my life telling me history that was a lie, trying to pawn off a deity which was a lie, and values that were threadbare and empty. They told me to go to college so someday I could worry about storm windows and property values, and I gave not a fuck for any of it– still don’t.

I loved autumn because of the World Series. The names from my childhood that I revered–Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Al Kaline, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Rollie Fingers, and Jim Palmer. . .I could get lost in those mythologies and forget the collection of dullards and dimwits assigned to educate me.

I loved drawing animals (dogs and birds mostly), especially birds. I also surreptitiously squirreled away as many Playboys as I could find. I loved looking at and drawing naked women. The curves and hips and legs and breasts were hypnotic and intoxicating and mesmerizing. Back then? I was too shy to ask women to take their clothes off so I could draw them.

I got over that.

I intend on making a bunch of naked women drawings down the road. For now, I go where the day takes me. I make up characters like I did as a kid and make quick and dirty pictures that I enjoy because I finally got a sense of *play* back into my work. It is hard work, but it is not labor. This one is about a dog I knew a long time ago named ‘Gizmo’ who had three legs and would bite you in the balls if you pissed him off.

The World Series is happening on my television as I write. Boston is kicking the snot out of the Cards. Jim Leyland, the great Detroit manager, just retired. He was always better than he had to be, taking mediocre teams and making them dig deeper and find their bigger game, and this breaks my heart a bit. But this is autumn, and at 54 years old I now know that this is what autumn does.

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Lunch Drawing 17: Kid Blinky

Lunch Drawing 17: Kid BlinkyThere is a notion among many First Nation cultures that nature bears witness to everything; that all things in nature are merely shadows of entities in the spirit world. Owls, in particular, carry a metaphorical weight and definition.

The Hopi believe that burrowing owls are keepers of the “underworld,” the world of the dead and unquiet beings that walk among us in the spirit world. Other tribes believe owls are intermediaries between the world of the living and the dead. Almost all cultures agree they are our night watchmen–our witnesses–and that every event, phenomenon, and transgression that occurs against nature is remembered. . .that the land, itself, possesses memory, and that people have no idea what the land knows.

This one is for the ghosts and spirits that do not forget.

Published in: on October 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lunch Drawing 16: Kid Mohawk

Lunch Drawing 16: Kid Mohawk

Published in: on October 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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